Lions, Wolves, Hyenas…
I know a lot of my albums begin this way but I had never seen a wild lion in my life. Si it was life long desire to head to the famed ‘Gir forest’ in Gujarat to see one (of course these days it is easier to go and see one in Africa).
Gir needs no introduction. It is the last and only stronghold of the Asiatic lion, on the back of a spectacular conservation success, and is spread over an area of 1412 sq. km in the districts of Amreli and Junagadh. The place teems with lions. The last official count was 411 in the 2010 census.
The aptly named Gir Birding Lodge set in a mango orchard bordering the national park is a quiet and great place to stay with fantastic birding inside the campus.
I combined Gir with a couple of days in Velavadar near Bhavnagar. Velavadar is the last remaining grasslands in the Bhal region of Saurashtra and hosts a wide range of mammals notably blackbuck, Indian Wolves, Striped Hyenas, Nilgai, etc. It is raptor haven especially in winter. Some of the largest wintering harrier roosts are in these grasslands. I stayed at the new and luxurious Blackbuck lodge that neighbours the park boundary.
My itinerary was Bangalore – Ahmedabad (air) – Velavedar (road) – Sasan Gir (road) – Diu (road) – Bangalore (air, via Mumbai).